Wishes for 2010 in Writing

I’m hoping for the following on our campus this  year:

  •  Steady growth in what Stanford calls “a culture of writing.” I love this phrase from their Hume Writing Center. This would involve, at Richmond, faculty engagement in the forthcoming seminars to prepare us to teach in the First-Year Seminar program, more writing in disciplines where it is not traditionally assigned, and, perhaps, a different way of thinking beyond “writing to get it done” by students.
  • More work with technology in writing assignments. Eng. 103 faculty have done an admirable job, during their swansong years as the program winds down. But how many of my other colleagues have writers work online with blogs, wikis, or multimedia compositions?  These are the sorts of writing our students will do beyond the college gates, and I’m not seeing enough of this sort of work assigned.
  •  Fewer “busy work” assignments. Many of our students take writing less seriously than they might because we pack in so much reading, short assignments that never get assessed, and so forth. Part of this, I feel, stems from faculty belief that students won’t do any work unless we push them. My policy of late has been to assign less but assess more carefully. Grades still motivate students; a short “write to learn” in each class that may be occasionally graded will keep students reading more than regular and lengthy assignments. Then writers will have more time for formal writing.

Those are three wishes from the Writing Center Director! We’ll see what 2010 brings.

2 thoughts on “Wishes for 2010 in Writing”

  1. One complaint I sometimes hear from students at UR is their disappointment in the scarcity of intellectual discussion and engagement outside of class. Hoping to dive into a rich bed of enthusiastic academic interaction, some students only find a frantic schedule in which the intellectual discussion is limited to class time as students mechanically complete assignments with little curiosity or enthusiasm. A Writing Center that is empowered to create and promote a “culture of writing” on campus could help to extend those conversations beyond class time and generate genuine enthusiasm for learning and fruitful intellectual exchange.

  2. I hear contrary stories; some students relish discussing ideas out of class (sometimes not the ones raised IN class, however). Certainly, more regional, socioeconomic, and cultural diversity of campus will help. First-generation students, who are coming to UR in greater numbers now, bring unique perspectives. I’m hoping to see us look less like a “big high school” (too often the case now–our students dress and act too much alike) in the future. Our Center plays a role in asking questions that lead to more questions. It’s part of what compositionist Molly Wingate calls a culture of “academic seriousness.” Lee, you and I encountered that at Stanford, where they talk of “a culture of writing.”

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